If the question is – “Why a book of poetry?”
The answer, (honestly), is – “Beats me.”
I do not remember writing the first poem. It was just there. Another followed, then another. Over a short period of time – no more than 10 days – someone who’s never had much of an inclination toward or appreciation of the written poem fell down the rabbit hole and all the way in. Quickly I found myself entirely devoted to poetry. It began to fall out, every morning after sitting meditation and with coffee in the recliner. In fact, many of the poems to be found in my first book of poetry – “Minor Revelations” – showed up in a flash sitting in the recliner.
I have always been a Shakespeare fan, a big one. Beyond that, no friend of poetry. In fact, a couple of years ago a friend named Kate, someone with whom I’d worked years earlier in a Portland foster care program, got the idea to bring poetry into Portland area juvenile detention centers and groups homes – something she’d been involved with in Seattle – and when asked, I signed up as a volunteer. I went to a number of the poetry planning meetings and brought home the books of poetry written by the kids up in Seattle Kate gave me to read (though I never read them much). After a while, the familiar fog of guilt upon me, I respectfully resigned…..Little did I know.
Today I have a second book of poetry in the works, about a third of the planned way complete. One of the poems in that project is called “Kate, I Didn’t Know”. Kate and I had a cup of tea at the Chinese Garden downtown Sunday morning and I told her about it – my new life as a poet, the second book, the poem with her name. She laughed — with me or maybe at me, who can tell. Probably a little of both. Kate’s always been a fan and supporter of my varied adventures.
My answer, above, to the question “Why a book of poetry?” was “Beats me.” While the “you got me”, “couldn’t tell ya”, “never woulda thought it”, all those ring true, there’s also a fabulous obsession in which I found myself immersing about a year ago with the literature of “The Beats” – Kerouac, Ginsberg, Corso, Hettie Jones, Diane di Prima, Clellon Holmes. Obviously there’s a lot of poetry there and while reading everything Kerouac I began the tiptoe through some of Ginsberg as well. “Howl” for sure. Then others. The point being that it’s possible the Beat poets were reaching out from the 50s and 60s, whispering in my ear – and in my heart – “come along with us, Buddy. It’ll be worth it. It’ll be exciting. It’ll be fun.”
So far it has, a joyride eons beyond anything I considered, never mind hoped for. I’ll talk in more detail – in my next post – just how that ride has looked as I’ve whizzed along all the road maps and signs of my interwoven life.
Here are the last 19 lines of “Kate, I Wasn’t Ready”:
Though I suspect it was a game,
Always a game.
Call it hide and seek
Where I was
And poetry a better hider.
When Kate took my hand,
Led me to workshops,
Filled my flimsy arms with thin volumes
of the good stuff,
Explained to me as if to a child.
All that time –
All this time –
Hiding behind my favorite tree.